GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The video game called Active Shooter will be available in a week online. For $5 to $10 anyone can play the role of a shooter or SWAT official inside a simulated school.
The game's pending release, as early as June 5, is sparking outrage including from parents who lost their children to senseless shootings including in Parkland, Florida. The game's trailer shows the perspective from the active shooter using a knife or a gun, hunting students, staff and law enforcement inside a school setting, then keeping tabs of the number of "civilians and cops killed."
"At the very least it’s providing a dress rehearsal for a future tragedy," said Melissa Henson, Program Director with the Parents Television Council.
In March, Henson attended the White House meeting with President Trump to discuss the effect of violent video games on mass shootings. In response to several software companies citing free speech protection, Henson tells FOX 17 developers rating video games as "mature" is not enough.
"We are big fans of the First Amendment too, and I think it’s essential for our liberties here in the United States for us to protect those First Amendment rights," said Henson. "But with any right also comes responsibility."
Northview High School Freshman Emily Nyquist is a member of Young Leaders Against Violence, a Grand Rapids coalition of high school and college students who work to educate and prevent violence including sexual abuse. Nyquist calls Active Shooter "horrifying."
"You’re making a game out of something that’s happened and something that’s really tragic," said Nyquist. "This game is coming out literally weeks after a shooting."
As of Tuesday early evening, more than 114,000 people signed a change.org petition urging Valve Corporation not to distribute Active Shooter on its online platform called Steam. That number of signatures doubled since 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The petitioners stand beside parents calling for this game to be stopped, as well as common sense gun laws, including Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime Guttenberg who was shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14.
"If you think there’s no correlation between this game and shootings, then you obviously have not read the studies or seen the facts that show the more that you expose yourself to violence, the more likely you are to become violent," said Nyquist.
FOX 17 reached out to Valve Corporation, which owns Steam, the online platform where Active Shooter will be available next week, as well as the game's developer Revived Games. Both companies have yet to respond.
While the game's publisher, Acid which is based in Russia, did not respond to FOX 17, they wrote online that this game "does not promote violence of any kind," and that "it's just a game." They also wrote they are considering removing the active shooter role in the game so that players can only game from the perspective of SWAT officials, due to high volumes of criticism.